The venue was known as Rio Tinto Stadium since it opened in October 2008.
The RioT is no more – at least in official name.
Real Salt Lake Stadium has a new title sponsor – America First Credit Union – and the stadium’s name has changed to America First Field, RSL announced on Saturday.
The Sportico website reported the deal was worth around $100 million over 15 years, putting RSL’s rights deal “on par with those of Los Angeles’ MLS franchises and double most clubs outside of Los Angeles. THE”.
“RSL and America First Credit Union share many principles, including an ambitious vision, commitment and innovation for our collective community,” RSL President John Kimball said in a statement. “The depth, breadth and length of this naming rights agreement for America First Field is exemplary of this partnership, and we look forward to deepening our shared roots not only in the great state of Utah, but in all of Intermountain West.
The change raises an immediate question for die-hard RSL fans. Rio Tinto Stadium earned the RioT moniker soon after it opened in 2008, and the moniker became part of fan culture.
Some diehard RSL fans said they didn’t care which company had the official naming rights. For them, it will always be called “The RioT”, and they don’t plan to change the lyrics of the song “Believe” written by Rancid drummer and RSL fan Branden Steineckert.
“I don’t care what the sign says, I will always refer to our stadium as The RioT,” fan Mattey Casey said. “That remains true even if they build a new stadium in downtown SLC one day. And I will always sing ‘Believe’ at kick-off and after every goal the guys score. Some things are permanent.
Steineckert himself addressed this same question in response to a tweet.
“RioT applies to any home or away game,” the batsman wrote. “It’s still a RioT fighting for our club on/off the pitch and the battle anthems begin! We are here for RSL!
Another fan, Kristy Sauter, before the news was officially announced, sympathized with any new company taking over the stadium’s naming rights because, in her mind, there will probably never be another moniker reflecting the new company. .
“I would still call it RioT and I would like to keep the same song,” Sauter said. “I know it’s not fair to whoever has the next name contract, but I can’t imagine any other name being better for this stadium.”
America First has partnered with RSL since the club’s inception in 2005, when it played its home games at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
“We are thrilled to extend our relationship with Real Salt Lake and Major League Soccer by having our name on this elite sports and entertainment venue, and offering the exclusive credit card and debit card of the RSL brand,” said Thayne Shaffer, America First President and CEO.
As part of the expanded partnership, America First will create RSL-branded debit and credit cards that will provide account holders with discounted tickets, concessions and merchandise, as well as special access to events.
There is a practice field about 1.5 miles south of the stadium which is already called America First Field. This is where the Utah Royals FC held their practices before the franchise was sold and moved to Kansas City. This field will now be referred to America First Training Grounds and should receive improvements.
Rio Tinto will still be a sponsor of the club in the future.
The stadium had Rio Tinto as main sponsor since it opened in October 2008. The deal was due to expire in 2018, but in 2015 was extended until the end of 2020. There have been talks with various local companies – including Visible Supply Chain Management – to take over as naming rights sponsor before the organization eventually partners with AFCU.